Standing by the door of her bedroom in her family’s Hayward home, the walls lined with fabric-filled shelves and every imaginable color of thread, her white sewing machine reflected the afternoon sun that peeked in through her window. Shami has not only lived in this home her whole life, she was born within its walls. But when asked “What is home to you?” she expressed that she felt as though she did not have one, and was in the process of creating one for herself.

 “I don’t really feel emotionally attached to anything,” she said. “Detachment is my “home,” freedom is as well.”

Shami is a seventeen year old “designer of wearable art” from California’s San Francisco Bay Area. She started sewing lessons at eight years old, and created the brand “Shami Oshun” two years ago when her dad returned from a trip to Africa with fabrics for her to use. After using the fabric to make a halter top, she decided to make other pieces to go with it, and created a website to sell them. She has continued to do this, expanding her business from her home to the world.

When she’s not at school, she spends most of her time sewing — bringing her designs to life. Her main inspiration for her designs come from her aunt’s dauntless wardrobe.

“I don’t really follow the normal guidelines of clothing. I mix cottons with satins ‘cause it just feels right,” She described. “I don’t make anything to please anybody else, but it does make me happy to know that there are people who will end up buying it and liking it.”

 Although she often questions whether or not her pursuits in fashion are what she actually wants to pursue — especially with all of the different sports, instruments, and hobbies she has tried, along with the constant inflow of design ideas she has — she can’t think of anything else that makes her as happy.

“I do everything I do just because I love to do it. All the patterns and fabrics I pick are because I love them, they connect with me.”

Written and photographed by Eileen Syrop
Last two photos by @notalents